Dear … younger me,
I think that my first memory is of falling off a tractor tyre in the playground of my nursery and bursting my lip open, on the day I went to visit my mum and new-born brother in hospital. Having said that, I’ve been told the story so many times, it could just my own personal bit of folklore. Certainly, I have memories from the age of seven, when my mum took me to the local riding stables and I began my interest in horses that lasted long enough for me to get a degree in the subject!
When I sit and bring my attention to my own history, I’m filled with an awareness that every decision, every relationship, every experience, good and bad, is weaved together into the person that I am today. For every failure, there is learning, for every success, there is joy. I have regrets, certainly, but I try to use that regret as a reminder that, should the same opportunity arise again, I can make a different choice.
They always say that, if you look at the things you enjoyed doing as a child, it will tell you what you should do as a grown up. In my case, that’s riding horses, being a librarian and making potions out of flower petals, mud and grass seeds. It’s not too far removed from what I like to do now, in truth. But I think there’s room for more. Room to reflect on what you used to love, younger me, and to see if I can do more of that in my current life. I had to quit my aromatherapy course when I found out that I was pregnant. That’s something I’d like to go back to. And I’d like to go back to practising massage, perhaps. Keep making my grown up versions of those flower petal potions. Maybe one day, I can do something with books. A little bookshop, perhaps? Or maybe I should write a novel …
And, I’d like to ride horses again. Just for fun.
Looking back, I’m reminded of the things that I’ve always loved. Books, horses, playing outside. Travelling, growing food, learning new things. I remember the great moments of my life, like seeing the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, finishing my degree, and of course, becoming a mother.
And I remember things that didn’t quite work out. Leaving my first real job, because I was bullied by the head veterinary nurse. Moving to live in the grounds of a castle, getting paid £20 a week for working in a riding stables there, and running away in the middle of the night. The big things: having time off work because of stress, the very early birth of my daughter, my divorce … and everything since then, that’s led to this point in time. To this room, in the house of my parents.
I don’t blame you for any of this, younger me. I know that you’ve always tried your best, made what you thought were the right decisions at the time. Struggled to find your place in the world; something that has taken you until this age to work out.
I want to tell you that it’s ok not to know what you want to do when you grow up. You might never really know and that’s fine. It’ll be a fun journey, anyway. I want to tell you that you’re good enough for anyone and anything. That sometimes, it’s less about having all the answers, and more about knowing the right questions. I want to tell you that you’ve always been surrounded by love. That you’re a better mum than you think you’ll be. And you’ll realise, as you age, that you make excellent choices in friends, no matter what else you’ve messed up.
I think, sometimes, that you didn’t appreciate yourself enough. That, perhaps you allowed people to take advantage of you, to treat you as less worthy, because of that. But now, as I get older, perhaps a tiny bit wiser, I’m using what you’ve taught me to stand a bit taller, be a bit stronger. Know my own value. Develop a bit more confidence. Now that I’m nearly forty, I have a much greater sense of peace and self-awareness; something that I wouldn’t trade to have my time over again. I’m looking forward to what comes next. I think that the next decade will bring an even greater sense of self, of growth and blossoming. Because I know myself far better now, as a result of all that has gone before. All that you, younger me, have enabled me to become.